Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Nigeria’s efforts at fighting corrupt practices within its body polity has had limited success due to the absence of strong ethical frameworks at all levels to tame the ugly practice, a study conducted by the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms (TUGAR) which was presented yesterday in Abuja has disclosed.
The outcomes of the TUGAR study, which was presented to stakeholders involved in the fight against corrupt practices in the country, showed that poor professional standards and leadership at different levels as well as indiscipline and poor workplace practices have become huge challenges to Nigeria’s fight against corruption.
Covering about 181 organisations which included 89 public agencies, 60 professional bodies, 10 private agencies, 11 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), seven private business entities and four informal sector associations, the study explained that there is now a diminishing emphasis on competence and merit in favour of nepotism among institutions in Nigeria.
Its findings tallied with remarks by the acting Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibilities Commission (FRC), Mr. Victor Muoruakor, at the presentation that professional bodies in Nigeria have been found to be largely instrumental in most of the corrupt acts perpetrated in the country.
Presenting the report which was tagged: ‘Scoping Survey and Gap Analysis of Ethics Frameworks in Nigeria’, the Head of TUGAR, Lilian Ekeanyanwu, said four parameters for evaluation of ethics infrastructure in line with global standards were adopted during the studies.
Ekeanyanwu explained that the parameters were prevention; management framework; control and enforcement as well as periodic and regular reviews of ethical frameworks.
She noted that the Nigerian environment was found to now discourage citizens from reporting ethical infractions.
According to the study, the Code of Conduct for Public Officers (CCPO) currently in existence applies broadly without providing detailed guidance that addresses such emerging issues.
“It was observed that once a code of conduct ethics has been created, it rarely is subject to review in spite of the fact that ethics environment and governance system are dynamic,” revealed the study which also found that neither the CCPO which is a national public ethics framework nor any individual organisations ethics framework among those surveyed has achieved effectiveness based on the criteria deployed in the research.
It further indicated that citizens are now reluctant to complain about ethics breaches for fear of reprisals, delays, and cost of pursuing complaints to logical conclusion as well as general lack of confidence that complaints will be objectively investigated and culprits punished.
To improve the system, the study recommended the passage of a whistleblowers law; establishment of a national system for ethics frameworks as well as a policy requiring each organisation in the public sector to develop ethics instruments that address unique operational environment.
However, in in his remarks at the report launch, Muoruakar stated that the FRC had discovered that professional bodies in Nigeria have continued to expertly participate in acts of corruption, with most of them condoning and protecting their members from been prosecuted.